NEW YORK -- The vote of confidence came Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after Mets manager Terry Collins yanked closer Frank Francisco from a save situation. Francisco assured Collins that the left knee discomfort that had bothered him during Spring Training is not an issue, with Collins later confirming that Francisco is still the closer.
"Everybody wants to hear something positive," Collins said. "I just went to him this morning and said, 'You've got to hang in there.' He's disappointed. He's mad at me because I took him out, which is a common thing. It happens. I certainly don't blame him. If I was in his shoes, I'd be mad at me, too."
With the Mets clinging to a two-run lead in the ninth inning Saturday, Collins pulled Francisco after he allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base. Francisco has allowed six earned runs over his last three outings, a span of 2 1/3 innings, though both he and his manager insist the closer's balky left knee is no longer bothering him.
Jon Rauch, meanwhile, boasts significant closing experience and has not allowed an earned run over his first nine outings. Rauch would have notched the save Saturday had Kirk Nieuwenhuis not overrun a potential game-ending popup in shallow center field.
But the Mets signed Francisco this winter to a two-year, $12 million deal to be their closer, and that much will not change after a few poor outings.
"I just told him [Saturday] was one of those days," Collins said. "He's still the closer here, and he'll be ready to pitch when we get him back out there."
Pelfrey happy for Humber's perfect achievement
NEW YORK -- On the day the Mets played their 7,982nd consecutive game without a no-hitter, Mike Pelfrey later watched with envy as a former teammate threw a perfect game.
Pelfrey and Chicago's Philip Humber, the latest member of baseball's no-hit club, were Minor League teammates from 2006-07 and first-round Draft picks in consecutive years. Humber later became a key piece of the trade to bring Johan Santana from Minnesota to Flushing, before resurfacing with the White Sox last season.
Midway through the last decade, the two were as highly touted -- if not moreso -- as top pitching prospects Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Familia are now. So Pelfrey was not all that surprised to see his former teammate make history with the White Sox.
"Obviously, you're happy for him," Pelfrey said. "If you throw a perfect game in high school, that's impressive, let alone doing it at this level. He was a guy that you looked at and you always knew he had great stuff, especially now that his velocity's back up. Good for him. He's a guy you expect great things out of."
Humber became the seventh pitcher to throw a no-hitter after leaving the Mets, joining David Cone as the only Mets player to throw a perfect game after leaving the organization. The Mets and Padres are the only two franchises never to pitch a no-no, though those seven former Mets have thrown a combined 14 no-hitters for other teams -- including seven from Nolan Ryan.
"I think one day obviously, it's going to happen," Pelfrey said. "I can't tell you when it's going to happen but it's happened to almost every other team, so it's got to happen eventually."